Our Research

My colleagues and I have done extensive research across Australia for more than 15 years exploring the attitudes and perspectives of school girls, young women at university, and women working in the Information technology industry. Through the WinIT project at Griffith University, we have investigated the challenges of working in a male-dominated field and we have run mentoring programs for school girls. In addition, we developed and delivered a university summer course based on our research which uses scenarios to build conflict management skills and better prepare the IT workforce for dealing with ethical dilemmas. We ran this at the Fachhochschule Hannover (University of Applied Arts) in Germany in 2007 funded by the Maria Goeppert-Mayer programme. You can see our list of publications here. Contact us if you would like a copy of a paper.

Through Digital Divas, my colleagues in Victoria have developed and implemented a school based program to build girls' ICT skills and confidence, and increase girls' motivation to continue studying ICT and enter the ICT workforce.

A cross over project between both projects is the Girls in Computing evaluation project, which is a collaboration between Griffith University, Deakin University and the University of Muenster. We are comparing the results for four Go Girl Go For I.T. events and three Technology Takes You Anywhere events over ten years. We have published some results (below). 

Publications

Dr. Beekhuyzen is co-chairing a track on Diversity and Inclusion in technology at the 2017 Australasian Conference on Information Systems in Hobart Tasmania in December.

She also co-chaired a track at the European Conference on Information Systems titled: Diversity and inclusion in the ICT workforce - June 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Published in the 2016 European Conference on Information Systems

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Published in December 2014 in the Australian Journal of Information Systems

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Published  in Dec 2014 in the  Proceedings of the 25th Australasian Conference on Information Systems

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Published in May 2014 in Germany at  the GenderIT conference

Title: Influencing Girls' interest in information technology

AUTHORS: Gorbacheva, Coldwell-Neilson - Contributions by Beekhuyzen, Craig

The lack of skilled labour that can support digital economies is a worldwide problem, exacerbated by the lack of female participation in the Information Technology (IT) industry. Interventions that promote IT study and career opportunities for girls can be a powerful means to counter the ongoing decline in IT interest amongst females. However, the impact of such interventions is rarely being evaluated. This study is, therefore, aimed at gaining insights into the influence on IT career perceptions of one IT intervention event for secondary school girls conducted in Australia in 2014. 

 

Title: ICT interventions for girls: Factors influencing ICT career intentions

Authors: Gorbacheva, Craig, Beekhuyzen, Coldwell-Neilson

Intervention programs aimed at promoting study and work opportunities in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field to schoolgirls have been
encouraged to combat a decline in the interest among girls to study ICT at school. The goal of our study is to investigate the influence of such interventions on schoolgirls’ intentions to choose a career in the ICT field by analysing comprehensive survey data (n= 3711), collected during four interventions in Australia, using the Partial Least Squares method. Our study is also aimed at identifying other factors influencing ICT career intentions. We found that the attitude towards interventions has an indirect influence on ICT career intentions by affecting interest in ICT. Our results also challenge several existing theoretical studies by showing that factors that had previously been suggested as influencers were found to have little or no impact in this study, these being same-sex education and computer usage. 

Title: Longitudinal Evaluation of ICT Intervention Programs for Girls

Intervention programs creating awareness among girls about the wide range of career opportunities in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field are conducted in many countries to tackle the problem of female under-representation in ICT. The long-term effects of these programs, however, are rarely evaluated which hinders the understanding of how they could be improved, their value and success factors. The goal of this study is, therefore, to investigate the longitudinal influence of one such program held biennially in Australia since 2006, by analysing survey data both quantitatively and qualitatively (n = 153). The results show that continuous study of an ICT subject at school by girls positively influences both their intention to choose a career in ICT and the actual choice of ICT as a university major. Moreover, the attitude towards the intervention program has a weak, but significant positive effect on the decision to study ICT at school.

Title: The Impact of IT Intervention Programs for Girls

Authors: Coldwell-Neilson, Craig, Gorbacheva & Beekhuyzen

Intervention programs aimed at promoting study and work opportunities in the Information Technology (IT) field to schoolgirls have been conducted to combat a decline in the interest among girls to study IT at school. The goal of our study is to investigate the longitudinal effect of one such Intervention, namely Go Girl Go for IT, held at Deakin University (Australia).  This event is a bi-annual and has been conducted in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. Each event has been evaluated with pre- and post-event surveys.  Longitudinally, both students and teachers have also been surveyed three to four years after the event in which they participated. Results from the 2006 cohort (surveyed in 2009-2010) show that any increase in the uptake of IT in schools that has occurred as a result of attending the event is transitory.  Therefore we recommend that regular follow-up activities need to be done at many levels to facilitate longer lasting changes in attitudes and behavior. Moreover, we found that practically all the girls who decided to study IT at University level had undertaken IT at school. Therefore, it is crucial that inspiring, engaging, and empowering computing classes are being offered at all secondary schools. However this is challenging as computing classes are not compulsory and many schools do not offer senior IT classes.

Published  in Dec 2013 in the  Proceedings of the 24th Australasian Conference on Information Systems

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Title: ICT Interventions for Schoolgirls Do Matter! Understanding the Factors Influencing ICT Career Intentions through Partial Least Squares Analysis

Authors: Gorbacheva, Beekhuyzen, Craig & Coldwell-Neilson

Intervention programs aimed at promoting study and work opportunities in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field to schoolgirls (Interventions) have been encouraged to combat a decline in the interest among girls to study ICT at school. The goal of our study is to investigate the influence of Interventions on schoolgirls’ intentions to choose a career in the ICT field by analysing the comprehensive survey data (n = 3577), collected during four interventions in Australia, using the Partial Least Squares method. Our study is also aimed at identifying other factors influencing ICT career intentions. We found that the attitude towards interventions has an indirect influence on ICT career intentions by affecting interest in ICT. Our results also challenge several existing theoretical studies by showing that factors that had previously been suggested as influencers were found to have little or no impact in this study, these being same-sex education and computer usage.

Published at the ACM Computer Science Education Conference (CSE) in Colorado, US in March 2013

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Published in the Information Systems Journal, Vol 22, Issue 5, Sept 2012

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Download editorial of special issue on women in ICT here

 

 

 

 

 

Published in the Journal of Information Technology Education 2004

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Title: Are IT Interventions For Girls A Special Case?    

Authors: Craig, Coldwell-Nielson & Beekhuyzen

Over the past two decades, numerous interventions have been conducted to inform and inspire schoolgirls into studies and a career in computing and technology. Two successful intervention of this kind have been held over a number of years, and this paper presents the initial stages of a longitudinal study which evaluates the qualitative data from the survey from six Australian events in total. The paper explores the motivational aspects of the presentations in the context of the responses from students and teachers, and it highlights the importance of ensuring that presentation sessions at these events are fun, funny and interesting, and the importance of considering the age of the target audience. It concludes by raising a concern. 

 

Title: Now I know what ICT can do for me! 

Authors: Clayton, Beekhuyzen, & Nielsen

Abstract: The under-representation of women entering into information and communication technology (ICT) programmes is a long-standing problem. While ICT continues to be increasingly accepted and integrated into everyday life, gender stereotypes prevail in ICT turning female students away from ICT as an occupation. Based on existing literature on factors influencing girls' career choices and on an empirical qualitative study in three schools in Australia, a conceptualisation of the influence of middle-school experiences on girls' ICT study and career choices is presented. This conceptualisation is used as a guide to evaluate a recent intervention programme aimed at promoting ICT study and work opportunities to middle-school girls. A number of recommendations for future programmes are provided, highlighting the need to study how subcultures that support ICT career choices develop and are supported in Australian schools.

Title: An Exploration of Dualisms in Female Perceptions of IT Work 

Authors: Von Hellens, Nielsen & Beekhuyzen

This paper explores the way women perceive and talk about the nature of their  work, in the context of the declining participation of women in the Information Technology (IT) industry. The study is part of an ongoing project (WinIT), commenced in 1995, that has examined the attitudes of high school and university students and IT personnel towards IT education and careers. The research so far has shown that most students have a poor understanding of IT education and work and perceive IT as difficult and boring.